After every mass shooting or terrorist attack there is debate on how much of the spotlight should shine on the perpetrator. Some argue that by reporting on the shooter, the media are just giving him the publicity he craved. But as we each ask why a mass shooting like the one in Sutherland Springs happened, looking at who the shooter was gives us some insight.
Local officials have identified the deceased shooter as Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old living in the San Antonio suburb of New Braunfels, Texas. While he was not from the Sutherland Springs area, his former mother-in-law had an address in the area and Kelley had sent her threatening texts before the shooting, reports The Daily Mail:
At an afternoon press conference, police revealed that Kelley had 'expressed anger towards his mother-in-law' Michelle Shields, who attended the church.
Michelle wasn't present for worship on Sunday when the massacre unfolded, but spoke to investigators after. It was previously reported that Kelley's wife Danielle was a former teacher at the school, and that her mother was a parishioner who is friends with the pastor's wife.
Kelley had been married twice, once in 2011 and once in 2014. His first marriage last about a year, ending in 2012 or about the same time he was facing domestic abuse charges while serving in the Air Force. The Daily Beast reports that Kelley was kicked out of the Air Force in 2014 after serving his sentence:
Kelley was court-martialed in November 2012 for assaulting his wife and their child. A judge sentenced him with a bad-conduct discharge, 12 months confinement, and two reductions in rank to basic airman, according to an appeals court decision in 2013 that affirmed the decision against Kelley.
Kelley married again 2014 but was reportedly estranged from his wife Danielle.
For the past several weeks, Kelley had been working as a security guard at a vacation resort not far from San Antonio. The Associated Press spoke to the manager who expressed shock, adding that no one had any problems with Kelley in the time he was employed with them.
Police report that Kelley used Ruger AR-556 which he purchased in April 2016, this despite Texas Governor Gregg Abbott confirming that Kelley had been denied a gun permit by the state of Texas previously and should not have been allowed to own a firearm.
"This is a man who had some mental health issues long before this," Abbott said.
So how did Kelley get a gun? CNN reports that he lied on his background check application and gave an out-of-state address.
When Kelley filled out the background check paperwork at the store, he checked the box to indicate he didn't have a disqualifying criminal history, the official said. He listed an address in Colorado Springs, Colorado when he bought the rifle, the official said.
The Daily Mail reports that former friends and schoolmates of Kelley describe him as an extreme atheist who pushed an anti-Christian agenda on Facebook and elsewhere. Despite this, police say they do not think religion was a motivating factor in the shooting.